Crews demolish downtown Saginaw building - WNEM TV 5

Crews demolish downtown Saginaw building

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Crews are demolishing a Mid-Michigan building after it partially collapsed.

A portion of the structure at the corner of Water and Genesee in Saginaw, which dates to the early 1900s, collapsed onto the sidewalk Sunday.

Crews have blocked off the area as a safety precaution and a small crowd has gathered to watch.

The east and westbound lanes on the Genesee Avenue Bridge, and the north and southbound lanes on Water Street, between Genesee and Federal, are also closed to through traffic until further notice.

The building is owned by Saginaw River Development, L.L.C.

Both the Bancroft Coffee & Tea and Bourbon + Co are both open during their regular business hours. To access The Gallery, guests are asked to use the Bourbon + Co entrance to The Gallery. 

Despite obstacles, it does appear that a couple of the ornate eagles that adorned the top of the building are being saved.

The eagles weigh around 1,500 pounds a piece and sit six stories up.

"Very sad. It's a really cool building, but it's kinda clear that it has lived its time. And unfortunately at this point, it doesn't look like there's much they can do to save it at this point," said Ryan Seifferlein, Saginaw business owner.

Seifferlein runs the Bancroft Martini Bar and Bourbon and Co. - two businesses located next to the historic building slated for demolition.

Despite the building's rich history, John Stemple - chief inspector for the city of Saginaw - said the building was too far gone to save.

"The structural steel in the building has been weakened to the point that the only way to fix it would be to tear it down and start over," Stemple said.

He said the demolition should take two to three weeks to complete.

As for future plans for that spot on the Saginaw River, Seifferlein said he is curious to see what happens next.

"I think they might have plans. If nothing else, if it's just gonna sit empty, some extra parking could be wonderful," he said.

Vice president and chief historian for the Castle Museum in Saginaw, Tom Trombley, said the building had a long and storied life.

"When the first three floors were constructed, and that would have been completed in 1921, it was known as the Hubble Auto Dealership," Trombley said.

He said after the dealership moved, there was a three floor addition to the top of the building with plans to turn it into a hotel.

Despite the various attempts to reconstruct and expand on the building, Trombley said those dreams never made it to fruition.

"Vacant, but it was used. I mean, Saginaw was a bustling city so even a partially completed hotel that was going to be called the Saginaw Tavern could find some use," Trombely said.

Saginaw resident Russell Dowis said he used to work in the building back in the 80s.

"Saginaw Welding and Fabricating that my dad owned used to be on the bottom floor. We rebuilt the elevator to get the elevators up and down so we could get the stuff out that was up there in storage," Dowis said.

He said even during that time the building had its fair share of problems.

While it is sad to see the building go, Dowis and other residents said they are hopeful it will help the continued rebirth of downtown Saginaw.

"Sad to see it go. I wish they could have preserved it," said David Kendall, resident.

Kendall said he was born and raised in Saginaw and watching a building he grew up with get torn down is a bit sentimental.

"I remember when I was little. We used to come down here and play by this building and it was a lot of fun," Kendall said.

He was one of dozens of people who came out on Wednesday to watch the demolition.

"It's bittersweet, but I mean for safety I'm glad that it's finally being taken care of. But for us that's lived here and grown up here and to see another historic piece go down," said Rena Peak, resident.

She said it is difficult to watch the building come crumbling down. She is part of the Adams Boulevard Neighborhood Association and said it's important to appreciate the regrowth of the city.

"I remember as kids coming down here shopping and seeing these buildings and when Wakman's used to decorate for Christmas and it still is a beautiful place," Peak said.

Both Kendall and Peak said it's the right choice, especially for safety of the public.

"These guys are here to do their job, which is to save the people," Kendall said.

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